January 26th, 2015

manning: uberbitch

Breastfeeding and Page 3

A casual acquaintance of mine made a post on Facebook that nettled me a bit, but I didn't want to reply to it there fore several reasons. First, I don't know this person well and have no idea how they'd take disagreement. Second, I make it a rule to check Facebook once a week or less. Third, I only use it to like pictures of other people's cats and babies and to make innocuous, supportive and inoffensive comments, because it is a piss-poor platform for nuanced, well-informed interaction. Thus, behold: a journal entry containing the reply I would have made if said comments hadn't been hosted on Facebook.

The post essentially said: Why do feminists think it's okay to be pro-breastfeeding-in-public and simultaneously oppose Page 3 of The Sun newspaper? Are they not contradicting themselves on the subject of bare breasts? (I'm phrasing this more coherently than the original poster did.)

Well. Let us examine the problem with this logic. It assumes that bare breasts are viewed in a manner that is completely context-free. Either they are simply fleshy bits stuck on the front of ladypersons and are totally inoffensive under all circumstances, which is an attitude I would gladly be on board with adopting, or they are totally offensive under all circumstances, which I would not. The social reality is a lot more nuanced than this. If the "feminist" attitude seems contradictory to you, it's because mainstream social attitudes towards these two particular presentations of bare breasts are most frequently contradictory, and often the reverse of what one might expect (e.g. the first is offensive and the second is not). Thus, the answer to the question is that there isn't a contradiction in adopting such attitudes, because the assumption that all mammary presentations are equal in the eyes of society is wrong.

Below lies my personal view on this glandular conundrum:
I identify as a feminist and I find neither of these boob presentations offensive. The first is a no-brainer for me, not least because I'm a breastfeeding mum. Despite what I'd like to believe in theory - that a breast being used to feed a baby is being presented in an entirely innocent way - I feel the immense social pressure to breastfeed in an innocuous manner, and thus I always try to find a discreet place in which to do it and ensure that I'm covered. It would be much easier if I could just whip out a nipple and let baby latch, of course, but I don't really want to be stared at whilst I'm feeding him, so I don't do that. I would be delighted if breastfeeding stopped being such a polarising subject, but until social attitudes change pretty drastically, I don't see it happening.

On the subject of Page 3: I don't think the breasts themselves are offensive. Taking it a step further, I think that the circumstances under which they are photographed and presented are far better than what was being proposed to replace them. The owners of the breasts are compensated (I can't comment upon whether or not the amount of the compensation should be deemed adequate), but most importantly, they have consented to be photographed. The idea that replacing these images with "candid" (i.e. non-consensual) photos of celebrities in states of undress would somehow be a step forward for feminism was baffling to me. Some of the opposition to Page 3 that I've encountered also strikes me as another way to devalue sex work and demean sex workers, which...do we really need more of that?

I know there are those who would ask me, "What if your daughter was on a train and saw a man looking at Page 3?" I can only say that I think it best that she learns that there are images of naked people in the world and that most of the people who view them are wankers.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/960917.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.